Charles Leclerc topped the final practice session for his home Monaco Grand Prix, with the Ferrari driver beating Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas by just five hundredths of a second, with Lewis Hamilton third. There was trouble for Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel who crashed out early in the session.
With 17 minutes on the clock Vettel was third on the timesheet as drivers worked their way into session. The German was winding out for another quick lap on soft tyres but he locked up into the Sainte Devote right-hander at the start of the lap and went straight on into the barriers.
The impact was not a heavy one but it was enough to break the front wing and front left suspension of his Ferrari. His car was swiftly craned away and he played no further part in the session.
That left Leclerc to fly the flag for Ferrari and initially it looked like the Monegasque driver would struggle against the pace of Mercedes and, possibly, with the regulations.
Vettel’s crash led to the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car and when the period ended, Race Control reported that following the session it would investigate a possible VSC procedure infringement by the Ferrari driver.
Initially, too, Leclerc had little response to the pace of Bottas and Hamilton who traded P1 times in the first half hour, with Bottas eventually coming out on top with a time of 1:11.835. With half an hour gone, Leclerc was in fourth place, behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
The picture changed with 25 minutes left in the session, as the field set about their qualifying simulations. Bottas held P1 with a time of 1:11.338 but Leclerc, looking to be right on the limit, quickly posted a lap of 1:11.265 to edge the Finny by just 0.053s. Hamilton, who crossed the line, soon after could only manage a time of 1:11.478 to finish two tenths of a second behind Leclerc.
Fourth place in the session went to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver set a best time of 1:11.539 to finish the session just 0.274 off Leclerc’s benchmark.
Bothe Verstappen and team-mate Pierre Gasly completed a sequence of qualifying simulations as the brought the soft tyres into the optimum range with Gasly in particular chipping away steadily at this time. The Frenchman gradually worked his way down to a best time of 1:11.738, 0.473 off Leclerc and 0.199s off team-mate Verstappen.
The top five were the only drivers to lap below 1m12s, and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi took sixth place with a good late lap of 1:12.070, over four tenths behind Gasly. He was followed by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat who lapped just 0.025s slower then the Italian. Kimi Räikkönen took ninth place in the second Alfa Romeo and 10thplace went to Alex Albon in the second Toro Rosso.
2019 FIA Formula One Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 26 1:11.265
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 27 1:11.318 0.053
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 27 1:11.478 0.213
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 24 1:11.539 0.274
5 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 27 1:11.738 0.473
6 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 23 1:12.170 0.905
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 27 1:12.194 0.929
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 25 1:12.270 1.005
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 27 1:12.308 1.043
10 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 32 1:12.338 1.073
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 26 1:12.489 1.224
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 26 1:12.519 1.254
13 Romain Grosjean Haas 27 1:12.566 1.301
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 7 1:12.583 1.318
15 Carlos Sainz McLaren 29 1:12.862 1.597
16 Lando Norris McLaren 26 1:12.914 1.649
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point 23 1:13.232 1.967
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 21 1:13.622 2.357
19 Robert Kubica Williams 27 1:14.086 2.821
20 George Russell Williams 27 1:14.305 3.040